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GOOD COOKING

Vegetables in a Pickle

August 19, 1993|ABBY MANDEL

When we think of summer salads, usually it's visions of thinly sliced sun-ripened tomatoes or firm cucumbers that dance through our heads. But many of my favorite salads for this time of year are what I call condiment salads. These are piquant, sweet-sour vegetable salads that can be made days ahead yet will stay fresh-tasting and vibrant.

These take their inspiration from the days of "putting by"--when the harvest was preserved for the winter that followed. Although the process of preserving and pickling has gone out of fashion, the desire for their taste persists.

That's the reason for the condiment salad recipes that follow. Though they are designed only for keeping in the refrigerator for about a week, you can easily put them up for the winter, simply by following the usual canning guidelines.

Although cucumbers usually top the list of candidates for pickling, fresh corn, young carrots and red knob onions form the basis of these recipes. Each vegetable is cooked to a specific texture in a sweet-sour liquid that enhances its flavor.

Once the mixtures are chilled, fresh herbs and a minute amount of oil are mixed in. Even this small amount of oil rounds out the balance of the salads (try a side-by-side tasting to understand its effect after the salad is chilled). Waiting until the salads are chilled before adding the herbs helps to preserve the herbal flavor.

Use these salads as condiment relishes, vegetable servings or salads; they enhance the simplest meal with the vitality of summer.

SOUTHWESTERN CORN RELISH

6 large young ears of corn, kernels cut off with sharp knife (about 3 3/4 cups)

1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1/3 cup water

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 cup finely diced sweet red pepper

1/2 cup finely diced jicama

2 small green onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1 tablespoon light-tasting olive oil

Combine corn, vinegar, water, cumin, salt and red pepper flakes in 12-inch non-aluminum skillet. Bring to boil. Let simmer until corn is tender, just few minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in sweet red pepper, jicama and green onions. Taste to adjust seasonings. Chill overnight or 1 week. Once chilled, stir in cilantro and olive oil.

To serve, mix well. Use slotted spoon to drain off juices. Transfer to serving dish. Makes 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

106 calories; 114 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.81 gram fiber.

*

Here, freshly harvested red onions and firm young garlic are thinly sliced and simmered in red wine, vinegar and honey until tender. Don't be intimidated by the amount of garlic; it becomes sweet and mild as it simmers. This is a versatile condiment, ideal as a side dish with grilled meats and poultry, also excellent as a flavor boost in sandwiches. This combination can also be gently reheated and used as a garnish on grilled meats, poultry and fish. The recipe is best when prepared with tiny red knob onions, which can be found at farmers markets. The fresh sage provides a great balance to this mix.

RED ONION AND GARLIC SALAD

1 1/2 pounds small red onions, tops trimmed, thinly sliced

7 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3/4 cup dry red wine

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup honey

1 1/4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh sage

Combine onions, garlic, wine, vinegars, honey, water, salt and pepper to taste in 12-inch non-aluminum skillet. Bring to boil. Simmer, covered, until garlic and onions are tender but still intact, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Taste to adjust for sweet-sour balance and seasonings. Chill overnight or 1 week. Once chilled, stir in olive oil and fresh sage.

To serve, mix well. Use slotted spoon to drain off juices. Transfer to serving dish. Makes 4 1/2 cups, or 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

102 calories; 300 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.44 gram fiber.

*

Carrots are a common ingredient in mixed salads but rarely stand on their own except as carrot sticks. Here they are thinly sliced and quickly cooked to the point of being tender, then refrigerated. The fresh mint is a perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the carrots.

SLICED CARROT SALAD WITH FRESH MINT

2 pounds slender carrots, peeled, thinly sliced

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 cup water

2/3 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Combine carrots, lemon juice, water, honey and salt in 12-inch non-aluminum skillet. Bring to boil. Simmer, covered, until just tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Taste to adjust for sweet-sour balance and seasonings. Chill overnight or 1 week. Once chilled, stir in olive oil and mint.

To serve, mix well. Use slotted spoon to drain off juices. Transfer to serving dish. Makes 3 cups, or 6 servings.

Each serving contains about:

203 calories; 251 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 48 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.55 grams fiber.

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